Japan books record trade deficit in Aug as weak yen inflates import costs

Japan booked a record 2.82 trillion yen ($19 billion) trade deficit in August owing to surging energy prices and a plunge in the yen inflating the price of imports, the Finance Ministry said on Thursday.

According to the Ministry, Japan’s trade deficit has continued to widen, with August’s figure marking the 13th straight month the trade balance has been in negative territory, reports Xinhua news agency.

The Ministry data showed that the latest deficit beat Japan’s previous record of 2.80 trillion yen logged in January 2014, as resource-poor Japan remains reliant on skyrocketing energy and raw materials from overseas.

In the recording period, the ministry said imports jumped 49.9 per cent to 10.88 trillion yen, as prices for crude oil, coal and liquefied natural gas spiked.

The Ministry noted that compared to a year earlier, the price of imported crude oil almost doubled to 95,608 yen per kiloliter.

The increase marked the largest in value terms since 1979 when comparable data became available.

As for the nation’s exports, the data showed they leapt 22.1 per cent to 8.06 trillion yen in August, owing to a rebound in demand for chip-related equipment and automobiles, the ministry said.

The yen’s recent fall to a series of 24-year lows versus the US dollar has further pushed up import prices, the Ministry noted, with its almost 23-per cent retreat in the lower 135 yen range against the US dollar since last August causing financial authorities here to warn recently of “one-sided” currency moves and signal that intervention into the currency market was not out of the question.

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